As details of the recent City Council action in approving Ordinance 73-2005-06 unfold, residents of the two-square mile downtown district now deemed “blighted” awakened to what is perceived as a potential threat to their homes and neighborhoods in form of “redevelopment” and eminent domain. The Council quietly whispered through the new ordinance and the people roared back their displeasure in the form of grassroots meetings and the beginnings of a sign campaign that touts the area as “Blightville.”
The City Council, which had considered the plan a done deal, is now facing the need to justify the Downtown Redevelopment Plan. They will respond to an angry constituency with a meeting of their own, a public forum to be held in January on a yet to be determined date and time and location. The Council hearing will be led by an as yet unnamed attorney. They’ll need a big room, since the opposition is growing steadily, as noted with the three hundred people who showed up for the December 17 petition drive at the Historic Train Station on Tenth Street. «Read the rest of this article»
The Music of this Holiday Season is uplifting a prepares emotionally and spiritually the celebration of Christmas and the New Year. Whatever the faith, music and signing is indispensable and enriches out lives whether it’s sacred or secular.Joining us in our musical jubilation are myriad organizations who also recognize the values espoused in the songs, cards, and happiness of the season. In December, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington office joined carolers in expressing the peace, joy and hope of the season as expressed through music. «Read the rest of this article»
The news could have been better, but given the circumstances, the news for SSA is positive. The FY 2008 Omnibus budget bill, which has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, recommends a funding level for SSA of $9,746,953,000. The President’s FY 2008 budget request for SSA was $9,596,953,000. The first version of the Labor-HHS bill provided $275 million over the President’s budget, but was vetoed by the President.
In fashioning a new bill, there was talk that most federal agencies would receive only the President’s request. The bill actually recommended an even higher number for SSA’s administrative funding; however, that amount was reduced by an across-the-board cut of 1.747%, reducing the SSA funding level.
Bottom line: In the end, SSA came out ahead of the game, but not as much as we had hoped. After the across-the-board reduction, SSA’s administrative funding in the FY 08 Omnibus measure is $150.0 million over the President’s budget request – and $451.0 million over the FY 200 level of funding. «Read the rest of this article»
A little known spy group in Clarksville meets twice a year at Shoney’s before the crack of dawn. When their plotting is done they leave at sunrise in several vehicles and drive to different areas of town. During the day they drive and walk every bit of their area and using spyglasses (binoculars) they jot down notes about their victims’ private lives. Some of these spies have been operating this secret mission for years and are really good at finding what they are looking for. “It’s like fishing in a way,” says Elaine Faust. “You are always anxious to see what’s around the next corner, by the next tree or in the next field. Sometimes you see things that aren’t supposed to be there and that’s really exciting.”
At the end of the day they celebrate their hard work and discoveries by sharing a dinner of chili. The notes collected there disclose nasty secrets that we may not want to know.
These spies are members of the Audubon society; they have acquired the ability to quickly recognize different types of birds and jot down how many they see. Twice a year, in December and in May, Audubon members gather to do an eight-hour count of birds in this area. Audubon member Amy Wallace says that the Christmas bird count (CBC) is so-named to counter an old tradition of hunters killing as many birds as they can before Christmas. «Read the rest of this article»
From the director of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side is a gripping investigation into the reckless abuse of power by the Bush Administration.
By probing the homicide of an innocent taxi driver at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the film exposes a worldwide policy of detention and interrogation that condones torture and the abrogation of human rights. This disturbing and often brutal film is the most incisive examination to date of the Bush Administration’s willingness, in its prosecution of the “war on terror,” to undermine the essence of the rule of law. The film asks and answers a key question: what happens when a few men expand the wartime powers of the executive to undermine the very principles on which the United States was founded.
Incorporating rare and never-before-seen images from inside the Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons, and interviews with former government officials such as John Yoo, Alberto Mora and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, interrogators, prison guards, New York Times reporters Tim Golden and Carlotta Gall (who wrote the first stories about the homicides in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan) and the families of tortured prisoners, the film dissects the progression of the Administration’s policy on torture from the secret role of key administration figures, such as Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and others to the soldiers in the field.
Clarksville citizens are certainly up in arms over the proposed Clarksville Center Redevelopment plan, and with good reason. The plan designates large portions of the downtown area as “blighted” (whatever that means) and therefore subject to eminent domain takings. Sadly, unless the council is convinced to repeal or amend the ordinance authorizing the plan there is not much anyone can do to stop such takings.
The Tennessee Code, Constitution, and at least theoretically the United States Constitution provide that private property may only be taken for ‘public use’ and then only after ‘just compensation’ has been given. The Tennessee Code theoretically should prohibit the proposed action, except for the minor problem that theory is fine and well, but as written the title does absolutely nothing to affect the actual eminent domain power with its list of exceptions and lack of definitions of the key terms involved. «Read the rest of this article»
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980 with the mission “…to stop drunk driving and support the victims of this violent crime. ” That’s a big, if not impossible goal, “to stop drunk driving”.
One way MADD is trying to stop drunk driving this holiday season is through their “Tie One on for Safety” campaign. According the the Leaf Chronicle (12.10.07), the Tennessee office of MADD is distributing over 10,000 red ribbons state-wide to raise drunk driving awareness. According to the article, the red ribbon campaign has three stated goals
Goals one and two appear redundant, but that is beside the point. The article does not explain how the display of red ribbons assists in accomplishing the campaigns stated goals. «Read the rest of this article»
They came, by the hundreds, and they were concerned. Worried. “Mad as hell.” And determined to do something about it. Nearly three hundred Clarksville residents turned out at the Historic L&N Train Station for a 6 p.m. meeting and petition drive to fight the designation of blight applied to their neighborhoods by the recent City Council approval of a Downtown Redevelopment Plan.
The meeting, called by the Clarksville Property Rights Association, came just three days after a similar meeting held Friday at the HOPE Center on Legion Street. That first meeting drew approximately 50 people. A mailing campaign, and a public relations push saw that first crowd grow to a shoulder-to-shoulder crush of about 300 people at the station. The Property Rights group was stunned but pleased by the turnout, and had done their homework, with petition postcards printed and filed by property owner names, each card ready to be mailed to the City Council. Additional cards were available for anyone not already on the list who wanted to support this effort at rescinding the legislation and the “blight” designation. «Read the rest of this article»
The TACIR “Trust But Verify” report recommends that Tennessee move to voter-verified paper ballots to improve election integrity.
Our efforts to achieve more secure elections in Tennessee moved forward this week when the TN Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) voted unanimously to release the TACIR staff report, Trust But Verify, to the state legislature and the general public.
The TACIR Commissioners were obviously influenced by the outpouring of emails and other messages they received from many of you last week. They told us that hearing from so many people did influence their deliberations. We need that to happen again in the next 2-3 days in order to move safe elections legislation forward.
The joint legislative study committee that is considering a bill to require optical scan voting systems statewide by November, 2008 meets on Tuesday, December 18. The recommendations of this study committee and the actions it recommends to the legislature will go a long way toward determining if our elections will be secure in 2008. «Read the rest of this article»
When was the last time you heard applause in a movie theater? Playing to a packed theater, the 2007-08 Live from the Met HD season opener — Romeo and Juliette — came just in time to please a Christmas audience who were not the least bit shy about breaking the otherwise absolute silence for a round of applause…
The performance was a live worldwide broadcast of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette, the operatic rendition of Shakespeare’s classic and tragic love story. It was a stunning performance. Though the stage itself was stark, the backdrop of moonscapes and nebula created a romantic, dreamy setting for the lovers. From a gala birthday ball with grand costumes and elaborate masks the the sweeping declarations of love in the “balcony scene,” to a sensual wedding night on a softly draped bed that seemed to drift among the stars on a moonlight breeze, Romeo and Juliette seemed to offer individual vignettes, paintings for our imagination to savor. «Read the rest of this article»
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